A History Of Harley-Davidson and The Boys In Blue

Date :

January 31, 2015

A History Of Harley-Davidson and The Boys In Blue

In 1940, Harley produced a special police model for the country of Chile. Built around a 74" model U, the bike featured a steel front fairing and armored sidecar. Just to show that the police in Chile meant business, a .30 caliber machine gun was mounted to the sidecar. A similar model showed up at a US trade show, but unfortunately no police departments felt the need to patrol the streets with something that could fire 600 rounds per minute.


Indian Motorcycles closed their doors in 1953 leaving Harley-Davidson as the sole US motorcycle manufacturer. This allowed Harley to continue it's expansion during a time that was once again plagued with an increase in automobile fatalities. To help crack down on speeders, many cities formed special motorcycle squads.


Most famous of these were the Tennessee Yellow Jackets. Easily spotted on their yellow and black motorcycles with matching uniforms, the Yellow Jackets had a short run, operating just 6 months during 1958 but left a lasting impression. Other groups would continue to copy their style well into the 1960's all riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, of course.


It wasn't until the 1970's that Harley was challenged again for dominance in the field of police motorcycles. This time the challenge came from overseas in the form of a new Kawasaki police motorcycle. California Highway Patrol became the first major police department to drop Harley-Davidson for a Japanese motorcycle and if you grew up in the 80's you'll definitely remember that the motorcycles used on CHiPs were Kawasaki's. It took Harley-Davidson 10 years to regain their footing in the police motorcycle market with the introduction of the FXRP and their new Evolution engine in 1985.



Today, Harley's can be found in over 3,400 police departments here in the US and in 45 foreign countries.  These latest motorcycles include all the bells and whistles, from air ride adjustable seats to saddlebags that can be opened with one hand (need one free hand for your firearm). As long as Harley-Davidson remains in business, there is no doubt that they will continue to produce police motorcycles, based on the best machines they have to offer. Just make sure you keep an eye on the speed limit when you ride past one.